Rhododendrons in Bloom

They are, as a group, (and I don’t say this lightly!) perhaps my very favourite plant!  If I had acres and acres of land I would fill it with beautiful trees (including lots of Japanese Maples) and underplant them with rhododendrons.

There are few comments from customers at the garden centre that I find truly annoying, but when people say – I don’t like rhodos because they only bloom for two weeks a year – I feel like slapping them!

First off, the bloom can last for a lot longer than a couple of weeks, especially in a cool spring (par for the course around here).  Then there’s the fact that many rhodos have beautiful foliage, and a venerable plant can attain a level of architectural beauty seldom seen in most shrubbery.

Some rhododendrons sprout new leaves delightfully blanketed with indumentum (fuzz) that can range from snow-white to rich cinnamon in colour.  Every year a few people rush into the garden centre clutching these new fuzzy leaves that they’ve torn unceremoniously from their poor plants, demanding that I diagnose what kind of disease is afflicting their rhodo.  Sometimes I have a hard time convincing them that all is well unless I show them some of our rhodos exhibiting the same “symptoms”.

Indumentum on Clayoquot Warrior

Even when my rhodos blooms have faded I’m not upset, because I know what comes next!  Emerging from underneath spent blossom clusters the new foliage springs forth, fresh and lovely (or fresh and fuzzy, in some cases).  Some of my fast growing varieties like Lem’s Monarch (aka Pink Walloper) seem to almost double in size each year!

Lush new foliage on Rhododendron 'Hallelujah'

By the end of the summer the flower buds for next year will form, and some of those are quite spectacular.  My Clayoquot Warrior produces stiffly upright dark red buds that bristle atop the narrow leaves, looking very warrior-like.

From February (in a good year) through June I have rhodos in bloom, peaking during May.  I swoon through the month of May, admiring the voluptuous beauty of extravagant colour in my garden, thanks to my rhodos.

Here are a few pictures of some of the rhodos I am growing in my new garden.

`Rhododendron `Lem`s Monarch` syn `Pink Walloper

Rhododendron `Lem`s Monarch` closeup

Rhododendron `Lem`s Monarch`aging gracefully

Rhodo 'Trude Webster'

Rhododendron 'Colonel Cohen'

Rhododendron 'Fantastica'

Rhododendron 'Whitney's Orange'

Rhododendron 'Hallelujah"

Rhododendron 'Whitney's Orange' - I love this one!

Rhododendron 'Arthur Bedford'

Rhododendron fastuosum flore plena

Rhododendron 'Kokardia`

Rhododendron 'Jonathon Shaw' and bumblebee

Rhododendron 'Calsap"

Rhododendron 'Hachmann's Charmant'

Rhododendron Knapp Hill hybrid 'Orangeade' technically a deciduous azalea

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About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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13 Responses to Rhododendrons in Bloom

  1. Mun says:

    OMG they’re gorgeous!!!!!!

    • Roxie Kremer says:

      So glAD YOU MENTIONED THAT THE FUZZ IS ok! I HAVE JUST PLANTED 16 NEW RHODIES & ALL ARE GETTING NEW GROWTH, BUT ONLY ONE IS COVERED WITH ALMOST WILTED WHITE FUZZY NEW GROWTH! I, TOO, WAS AFRAID IT WAS A TERRIBLE FUNGUS KILLING ALL THE NEW LEAVES!! sO GLAD IT IS JUST THE WAY IT GROWS!!

  2. barb19 says:

    Magnificent show of Rhodos; they are absolutely gorgeous. I think my favourite must be the ‘Hatchmann’s Charmant’ though – it’s stunning!
    Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous photos; I’d love to walk through your garden when they are in bloom!

    • hortophile says:

      At the garden centre where I work we refer to Hachmann’s Charmant as “The most beautiful rhodo in the world” which may be a stretch but it certainly is among them!

  3. ohanabee says:

    that is just beautiful. love the colors, great pix, great garden!!!!!

  4. lexy3587 says:

    gorgeous pics… I love all the bright colours!

  5. I love rhodies! unfortunately, here (East Coast U.S., NJ) they don’t bloom as long as yours, but I think they are wonderful. I especially love mature rhodies in mature neighborhoods, underplanted among big trees. They are magnificent! We’ve just passed the blooming season here, but I’ve seen so many in the past several weeks and they are one of my favorites, too.

    Love that first pic with all the pink flowers and leaves. Is that a Japanese maple on the left? And the lovely pink bleeding hearts, along with the rhodie — the color grouping in that pic is spectacular! The orange rhodies are interesting. Do you have them in one part of the yard? Sort of in an ‘orange area’? That “Calsap” rhodie is beautiful and so interesting, with its light flowers and dark centers. Have never seen that variety before.

    If you know of other fast-growing varieties, would you list them, please? The one drawback with rhodies out here is they seem to grow verrrrry slowly. If/when I get a house and start planting, I’d love to know about the fast growing rhodies so I can plant them!

    • hortophile says:

      Yes, that’s a japanese Maple – ‘Shin de Shojo’ (Spring Ruby). The orange rhodo and azalea are not close to the pinks (ugh). Since there are thousands of rhododendron cultivars it would make more sense for you to ask at your local garden centre (when you are ready) for recommendations on fast growing rhodos. Just remember – if it grows fast it will almost certainly get tall so be careful where you plant it!

  6. Beautiful pics! I never knew there were so many varieties of Rhododendrons!
    Elaine Hester
    Greenville, sC

  7. Shonna says:

    I’ve got a rhodo that I planted at least ten years ago and it has never bloomed. I don’t even remember what colour it was supposed to be any more (may have the tag in a file somewhere). It grows a bit every year, more sideways than up. We’ve had to trim it as it encroaches the path to the back door of the garage, but I’d sure love to see it bloom.

    • hortophile says:

      Does it get enough sun to produce flower buds? You can usually see them by the end of summer, fat buds at the top of the previous years’ growth. You can try giving your plant some rock phosphate, it’s a very slow release source of phosphorous (to encourage flowerbud formation) that isn’t alkaline like bone meal (another source of phosphorous). I suspect that it might have to do with the cold winters where you live Shonna, the buds might be freezing on the plant and dying. You need to grow really hardy varieties in cold-winter climates. Or move here…:)

  8. richard says:

    my rhodos have holes in leaves and have not bloomed.are they dead

    • hortophile says:

      If they have green leaves, they’re not dead. Can’t say for sure without seeing them, but the holes are likely insect damage – maybe weevils. The lack of bloom could be a number of things; lack of light, nutrients, or you pruned them at the wrong time. You should take some leaves into a local independant garden centre – not a box store – where you’re likely to find someone who can diagnose and provide suggestions for treatment.

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